Conference Grants: Bélgica del Rio on The Performativities of Anishinaabe Water Songs in My Body

30 Apr, 2020

Conference Grants: Bélgica del Rio on The Performativities of Anishinaabe Water Songs in My Body

Bélgica del Rio received a Spring 2020 BCNM Conference Grant to help cover her costs attending the American Indian and Indigenous Collective’s 6th Annual Symposium at UC Santa Barbara. del Rio presented "The Performativities of Anishinaabe Water Songs in My Body.” Read more about her experience in her own words below.

In February 2020, I attended the American Indian and Indigenous Collective’s 6th Annual Symposium at UC Santa Barbara on the Ancestral Territory of the Chumash Peoples. The symposium’s title was “Bodies as Archives” and invited us to acknowledge the body and bodies of communities as archives of knowledge, memory, and futures within Indigenously-centered contexts. I presented a chapter excerpt titled, “The Performativities of Anishinaabe Water Songs in My Body,” that shares my ongoing experiences with Honour Water, an Anishinaabe singing video game that teaches healing water songs as directed by Anishinaabe, Irish, and Métis artist Elizabeth LaPensée in collaboration with Anishinaabe Elders, Singers, and Artists. In my presentation (and in my doctoral research more broadly) I understand Indigenous performativities as the enactments that are created through the motion and resonance of embodied practices, such as singing, dancing, sewing, or coding. Within Indigenous-centered ways of being I also understand performativities to be a way of attending to relationships between human and more-than-human beings, bodies, and worlds. Overall my presentation demonstrated how the performativities of Anishinaabe water songs travel via digital space to ground me into my body. I also discussed how these performativities alter my relationships to bodies of water on Xučyun, the Ohlone territory on which UC Berkeley sits upon. Overall my presentation offered a body-centered method through which to approach Indigenous media systems, performance, and digital culture through an Indigenously centered framework.

I am thankful to the Berkeley Center for New Media, as well as the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Collective, for their support of my participation in “Bodies as Archives.” My research as well as my person were intellectually and spiritually nourished throughout the entire weekend of panels, keynote speakers, and performances. My research especially benefited from listening to the possibilities and responsibilities entailed by applying Indigenous knowledges as method or research. I also appreciated conversations that affirmed Indigenous presence beyond settler colonialism, colonialism, and the anthropocene. These conversations included all of the keynote presentations, including Professor Amy Ku'uleialona Stillman’s talk titled, "Notes Toward Indigenizing Sound Studies: Thinking, for example, about Soundscapes and Sonic Intimacies Archived in Indigenous Bodies;” Deborah Miranda’s talk titled, “Bodies as Archives;” as well as Lisa R. Morehead-Hillman’s talk titled, “nanivási vúr ikinayâach – my back is a ridge - the embodiment of traditional knowledge.” From my junior colleagues and peer graduate students, I especially enjoyed Marcelo Garzo’s talk, “Mitotiliztli ←→ Teochitontequiza: Danza Azteca as a Way of Knowing,” Kaitlin Stile’s presentation-performance, “Salmon Relations: Mapping Tlingit Cosmologies through Embodied Stories of Returning,” and Amrah Salomón’s talk, “Unboundedness: Indigenous Descendant Spatial Excess Beyond the Archive and Epistemological Binaries.” I am grateful for the opportunity to share the heart of my research method, evidence, and theory in an intimate, supportive environment. From this symposium, I am excited to integrate the feedback I received and connections made in order to continue giving weight to the body as a site and vehicle of knowledges, as well as to deepen my theorization of Indigenous performativities across spiritual, physical, and digital terrains.